I lived my childhood surrounded by lots of anger, shouting and drama, but I thought this was normal... the fate of every human being. I couldn’t make sense of my surroundings, so that left me in a state of confusion and guarded detachment. The world was a constant boot camp just waiting for you to trip and fall into a ditch with no one to help you get out.
Of course abuse came in diverse forms but most often it operated in insinuating ways, and so as a boy I learned to bear it silently behind a facade of “Everything is just fine”. The bruises were inside where no one could see them anyway.
My view and experience of love and affection was also just as disfigured. Again, insecure love is a distortion of life, but when you've lived with it most of your life it feels normal and you just don’t question it. In my adulthood, I entered the lowest valley of my life where I quietly and slowly lost myself to a personality disordered spouse. My sense of peace laid flat on its back with all four feet propped up. If anxiety and depression could describe my condition, I wouldn’t have been able to say, for I was too numb to feel.
I became as invisible as I could, flying under the radar as much as possible -- making myself as small as I could to escape the tantrums. If I saw an acquaintance on the street, I’d walk on by pretending not to notice him or her, because I simply did not have strength to interact. I stopped caring how I appeared, whether my hair was cut well or not, what clothes I had on... Any photographs taken of me during this period revealed the empty eggshell existence. There was no sparkle in my eyes, not even a trace of joy or spontaneity… and as Randolph Bourne says… “haunted with a constant feeling of weakness and low vitality which makes effort more difficult and renders (me) easily fainthearted and discouraged by failure.¨
Friends could see how I lived under the pangs of anxiety more than I was willing to admit. The reflection in their eyes told me something was wrong, but I preferred to live in denial, so I became reclusive. As Susan Ariel Kennedy wrote, “We become hypnotized by isolation, and think we’re doing it all by ourselves. Our self-supporting skills are not developed, so when people cancel or disappoint us, we can feel a lack of support. Support is usually very close by, and we haven’t learned how or when to ask for it. This can all be changed by studying and practicing new ways of giving and receiving support.”
I found some sense of relief in my routine of domestic chores. In some odd way I was learning an indispensable lesson: to be self-motivated even though my activities were “unsung, unseen, and unsupported”.
It was in the midst of this Cinderella scenario, that the survivor instinct awoke inside me -- when Hope entered inside me through a pin hole saying my life was about to change though I had no idea how.
What began to grow inside me was that I no longer expected others to understand me as I once "needed" them to. If someone understood me I'd be grateful! If not that too was now acceptable. It used to amaze me that though I described my past, EVEN THEN, well-intentioned people would give me this or that advice having no idea what this level of hurt meant. I realized it was not my responsibility to convince anyone about the validity of my story. That had been my first step to freedom.
So, this is my testimony -- a man lost in the land of the lost, but now in the process of recovery… The underlying motive that now compels me through each day is the search for connectedness -- authentic connection – seeking to share rich, satisfying, deep thoughts and feelings.